Staff Profile: Phil Duncan

5 May, 2015

“Land to me is being connected to my country and understanding my connection.  It validates my identity, values, culture, family and self-confidence.”

My name is Phil Duncan, I’m Gomeroi and my mum’s dad is Wiradjuri, born at Warangesda.

I grew up in More, but I spent a lot of my very young days living in a caravan travelling with Mum and Dad because Dad was a shearer, and he was a gun.

I’m the Senior Programs Officer here at the New South Wales Aboriginal Land Council (NSWALC).  My role is to identify key Government and non-Government agencies that NSWALC can enter into strategic partnerships with for the benefit of providing resources and key service delivery of programs and projects, to our LALC network and the wider Aboriginal community.

In addition my role is to represent the rights and interests of Aboriginal people and ensure that communities are engaged in a “culturally appropriate” manner across relevant issues that impact on them on a day to day basis.

I have worked in Aboriginal Affairs for 34 years and this is my second stint at NSWALC – the first being in the early 2000’s setting up the Strategic Policy and Planning Unit.  I left NSWALC to work as Manager for the Indigenous fishing strategies of the NSW Department of Fisheries before returning to NSWALC again to take on the role I’m currently in now.

For me, the highlights in the history of Aboriginal Land Rights are being a part of the historical marches, particularly the 1988 Tent Embassy at Mrs Macquarie’s Chair on Sydney Harbour.  I was working with the Aboriginal Legal Service at the time.

My family, Dad, Mum, my children and my 10 grandchildren inspire me in Land Rights. The people who continue to inspire me are those who are really making a difference within their own communities.  When they have been offered an opportunity to go elsewhere, they stay, to continue to make a difference for the next generations.

Land to me is being connected to my country and understanding my connection.  It validates my identity, values, culture, family and self-confidence.  On a wider scale it provides our people with economic opportunities which create jobs and opportunities along with the major responsibility to care for our country and ensure it is there for our next generations.

The one continuous thing about Aboriginal Affairs is that there is always a change of the guard.  We need to continue to have a focus on engaging with youth to ensure that when the time comes, we have people prepared to enter into the many challenges our people face and to provide the necessary leadership required.  Basically we need to support the capacity building of the next Generations particularly across the multitude of issues Aboriginal Land Rights is currently facing.


We pay our respects to the Traditional Owners of the lands where we work as well as across the lands we travel through. We also acknowledge our Elders past, present and emerging.

Artwork Credit: Craig Cromelin, from a painting he did titled, "4 favourite fishing holes". It is a snippet of his growing years on the Lachlan River, featuring yabby, turtle, fish and family.